Letters & Opinion

Staying Sane While Unemployed

MY article in weekend’s VOICE entitled “How to avoid going nuts while unemployed”. entailed an exploration of three different suggestions on coping with unemployment. In the spirit of the tomorrow’s Labour Day holiday, we will continue where we left off, and discuss additional ways of staying sane during unemployment.

Reassess your priorities and plan for your future.
For the hardworking busybodies among us, the idea of being out of work may seem like a dreary black hole that can only induce sheer insanity. There is a certain level of comfort associated with working. There’s the comfort of having a certain amount of financial stability and the comfort of feeling that you are actually busy doing something with your life. It’s a great feeling. For the ambitious and upwardly mobile, however, being employed can sometimes get in the way of many personal goals an individual has set for him/herself. That is why planning and reassessing your priorities are valuable activities to adopt during your period of unemployment. Whatever those priorities are, a period of unemployment is a great time for carefully considering and revising them, while planning to achieve personal goals. Are you missing out on enriching your spiritual life, maintaining physical fitness or working on personal development? Have your plans to further your education been neglected in the past while work obligations weighed you down? Everyone’s priorities and goals are unique, but only you can decide what yours are. So, while you search fervently for work, stop, think, reassess your priorities and goals and make a plan to achieve them.

So you’ve updated your resume, written cover letters and sent them off to several hiring managers. So, what in the world do you do with all that time while you wait for that much anticipated job interview request? Maybe you are fresh out of school and have not even decided what you would like to do with the rest of your life. What happens now? This question, left unanswered, may be precisely what may cause an unemployed person to feel insecure about his or her sense of purpose. A great way to remedy this enigma is to volunteer. Volunteering offers the chance to work toward the greater good of your society, which can in turn change what could be a period of inactivity and frustration about one’s purpose, into an experience of self-satisfaction, and in some cases, the discovery of one’s calling or a job/career opportunity.

One example that illustrates these points was cited by Debra Donston-Miller, guest contributor to TheLadders.com, in an article entitled, “Volunteering Opportunities Pay Off.” In the article, she describes Jane, a marketing professional who discovered her calling for animal welfare after volunteering for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while in college. According to Donson-Miller, “Jane volunteered at the MSPCA because she believed in the work it does.” Later, she returned to the MSPCA to volunteer after being laid off and was eventually able to secure a paid position in her field through her interaction with a colleague from the very organization she volunteered for. Get out there! Volunteer, find your purpose and use the opportunity to network. Further, don’t forget to add your volunteer work to your resume, because the skills and experience you’ve gained might be just what your next employer may be looking for.

Develop a hobby or hobbies (the more the merrier)
It is no mystery that job hunting can be quite a chore. Moreover, if you are really serious about it, finding a job can itself become a full time job. As with any other job, there needs to be time for personal gratification, time to relieve stress and time to take your mind away from the frustrations of seeking employment: getting rejection letters, following up a million times in the hope of being considered for a post and other frustrations that the unemployed are all too familiar with. The way to achieve this is to make time to rediscover or engage in your favourite hobbies or to discover new ones. Although this may seem like a no-brainer, getting engrossed in the process of finding a job may easily cause some individuals to neglect their personal obligation to enjoy life in the meantime. Life goes on even when you are unemployed, so enjoy it.

There may be a number of ways to avoid insanity while unemployed. Granted, all possible suggestions have not been exhausted, but above all, remember, the difficulties faced during this time are only character building stumbling blocks that should hopefully prepare and propel you into your destiny. Until next time, hang in there and shine like lightning.

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